Research Output
Ecology of two Pittas (Pitta soror and Pitta nympha) in limestone forests of South China
  The ecology and life history of bird species inhabiting limestone forests, which are under major conservation threats, is currently poorly known. To cover this gap of knowledge, in this study we report for the first time on several aspects of the breeding ecology of the Blue-rumped Pitta (Pitta soror) and the Fairy Pitta (P. nympha) inhabiting two typical limestone forests of south China. The mean density of Fairy Pittas in our study locations was 3.13 ± 2.82 and 1.05 ± 2.09 individuals/km2. The Blue-rumped Pitta was common in Nonggang and showed a mean density of 4.67 ± 2.44 individuals/km2, yet was absent in the other. We found nine nests between February 2009 and June 2015, including five of the Blue-rumped Pitta and four of the Fairy Pitta. Blue-rumped Pittas laid 4.8 ± 0.4 eggs with a mean fresh mass of 8.10 ± 0.40 g. Fairy Pittas had a clutch size of 5.2 ± 0.45 eggs with a mean fresh mass of 6.03 ± 0.22 g. Blue-rumped and Fairy Pitta parents fed their nestlings 4.0 ± 1.2 times and 3.9 ± 1.5 times per hour, respectively. Earthworms were the most common food item delivered to nestlings by Blue-rumped (93.6%) and Fairy Pitta (91.2%) parents. Blue-rumped Pittas bred successfully in 40% of nests (two of five), whilst in the case of Fairy Pittas nest success reached 75% (three of four). The two Pittas had larger clutch sizes than in southern populations of the same species and also than most other bird species inhabiting limestone forests. This would imply that Pittas show differences in life history traits within limestone ecosystems.

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  • Date:

    14 August 2017

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  • Publisher

    Taylor & Francis

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  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


Jiang, A., Yang, G., Pagani-Núñez, E., & Jiang, D. (2017). Ecology of two Pittas (Pitta soror and Pitta nympha) in limestone forests of South China. Journal of Natural History, 51(31-32), 1929-1941.



Blue-rumped Pitta, breeding parameter, Fairy Pitta, karst, population density

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